‘I get my butt kicked every 20 minutes’: Life in a state legislature’s superminority

The only two Democrats in the Wyoming Senate spend a lot of time talking.

Up against a “super duper majority” of 29 Republicans, Democratic Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss spoke on the Senate floor nearly every day during this year’s legislative session. His counterpart, Sen. Mike Gierau, sits on a whopping nine committees, racking up mileage traveling across the roughly 100,000 square mile state for hearings. The pair teams up to strategize how to pierce holes in legislation they consider a threat to Wyomingites.

Such is the life of a state lawmaker in the “superminority” — a group small in number but growing in ubiquity as the balance of power in state legislatures tilts even more lopsided in favor of majority parties.

There are 29 supermajorities in the U.S. controlled by either Democrats or Republicans, up from 21 in 2019. In addition, there are 51 House or Senate chambers where the minority party makes up fewer than one third of seats, according to a POLITICO analysis of data tracked by the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2009, there were 22 chambers where that was the case, and in some states supermajority control has flipped between parties since then,

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